Istanbul is popular for its historical monuments, art, history, antiques, spices, and a culture that blends the East and West impeccably. But while you may love the rush of art and history in the city, the place really comes alive after hours.

The nightlife in the city of the seven hills is young, cosmopolitan and, more importantly, catering to all budgets and lifestyles. Whether you shake a leg at the country’s chicest clubs or simply unwind at a local bar, you won’t be disappointed here. Here’s a detailed guide to enjoy Istanbul’s nightlife.

1. Taksim Square

Undoubtedly the epicentre of nightlife in Istanbul, Taksim Square and Istiklal Caddesi, its neighbouring street, are where both tourists and locals flock. Since this is typically where most hotels and shopping areas are located, there are a host of clubs, bars and quaint cafes here.

In addition to the drinking, dancing and entertainment options, this square has tourists flocking from across the globe after hours – so it is truly an experience to meet and share stories.

At Taksim Square, start your nighttime journey from the European neighbourhood of Beyoglu, then move on towards Galata and Karakoy. Along with restaurants and bars, the street is lined with local performers and artworks on the wall.

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  • Babylon

Almost a decade old, Babylon is a must-visit for all tourists going to Taksim Square. One of the first live-music clubs and nightlife spots in the city, the club opens its doors to local artists and acts on weekdays and is ideal if you wish to get a taste of Turkish music.

On weekends, though, the club is home to elite tourists and well-known music artists, such as Diplo and Lykke Li.

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How To Reach Babylon: Take a tram to Taksim Square and walk up to Babylon from there to experience a whole street lined with bars. You can also take a bus or taxi from Taksim Square to the venue.

The club opens at 1pm, and is closed on Sundays and Mondays. For security purposes, Babylon doesn’t allow coats, jackets, backpacks and big bags. You can leave them outside for a small fee.

  • 360 Istanbul

Looking for a more relaxed night out in town? Then try the iconic rooftop bar, 360 Istanbul. This award-winning lounge and pub is on the topmost floor of a 19th-century apartment building that offers a bird’s-eye view of the whole city.

It offers a cuisine fused with Turkish and international flavours, along with some fine beverage choices.

360 Istanbul is open for lunch as well as dinner; however, weekends are when you can experience the place in all its grandeur. It comes alive with live music and dancers with Turkey’s top DJs.

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How To Reach 360 Istanbul: Reach Taksim Square via metro or tram and walk past the Galatasaray School near the St Antonie Cathedral.

It is best to make a reservation beforehand, as the place can get quite crowded even on weekdays.

Besides these two places on Taksim Square, you can also check out other clubs in the area, such as the Machine Club, Rock N Rolla, Balkon, and the Vida and Mikla Bar (Marmara Pera Hotel).

2. Bosphorus

The Bosphorus area is the place to be at if you’re looking for a budget night out in the city. Visited mostly by college students and young working professionals, this is the ideal spot to enjoy some pre-drinks before you hit the big (read: expensive) clubs.

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  • Taps Bebek

Taste what the locals are brewing at this award-winning craft beer venue in Bosphorus. This was the first brewery in the country, serving interesting flavours of beers such as Smoked Lager and Chocolate Stout.

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How To Reach Taps Bebek: Since the venue is tucked away at the end of Bosporus, hiring a taxi or taking a bus from your hotel would be best.

Taps Bebek is not a popular joint for tourists, so it would be a great way to connect with the locals and learn more about brewing.

You can always visit a few more bars while in Bosporus, such as Beer Point, Yazı Tura Cafe Bar, and Frame for a taste of local watering holes.

3. Ortakoy

The crème-de-la-crème and Turkey’s celebrity stars visit the Mecca of partying in Istanbul – the Ortakoy area – often. If you don’t mind splurging on some of the finest cocktails in the city and have an epic night to remember, this is where you should be!

  • Sortie

One of the most exclusive nightclubs in the city and also popular internationally, Sortie combines the best of food, music and alcohol.

The 3,500-square-metre venue hosts seven different clubs and restaurants, each with its own unique flavour. These include the popular cafe-restaurant Gogga and the bar, La Scarpetta.

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How To Reach Sortie: Take a tram to Kabatas (the last stop in that line) and walk towards Ortakoy.

Sortie is a bit expensive, so ensure you carry enough local currency or a credit/debit card to enjoy at the club. It is mandatory to make a reservation beforehand. If you are visiting solo, confirm while making a reservation, as usually only couples are allowed at the venue.

  • Nomads

One of Amsterdam’s most popular clubs, Nomads now has a base in Istanbul. The stunning interiors are the first thing you will notice here, as the light glistens on the Moroccan, hand-crafted chandeliers and accessories.

The beautiful view of the city and the Bosphorus water body makes this place worth a visit. Complete with Moroccan-inspired cuisine, cocktails and music, this place also has live performances on weekends.

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How To Reach Nomads: From your hotel, reach Kabatas by tram or bus and walk towards Ortakoy – it is across the erstwhile club, Reina.

Making a reservation here beforehand is a must on weekends, but on weekdays you can try your luck.

Besides these, you can always check out Lucca, Blackk, Supper Club, and Album while in Ortakoy.

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